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Puerto Rico Health Dept. proposes $300 fine on travelers arriving without negative COVID-19 test

Puerto Rico Health Secretary Carlos Mellado has signed a new Administrative Order that effective April 28, will impose a $300 fine on all travelers who fail to present a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to their arrival to the island.

However, he said the fine will be removed once the traveler submits the result to the BioPortal system within a maximum term of 48 hours after arrival on the island.

“We’re complying with Gov. Pedro Pierluisi’s mandate to establish more restrictive measures that allow us to control the spread of the virus and, in this way, slow the uptick in infections,” he said.

Pierluisi is scheduled to meet with Mellado and other government agency heads today to talk about the COVID-19 crisis, followed by a press conference.

On Monday, the Health Department confirmed 977 new COVID-19 cases on the island, pushing the total to 108,864. Seven coronavirus-related deaths were reported, pushing the total number to 2,207 so far.

“We’re seeing the behavior of the disease becoming a little more aggressive, which prompts us to take changes that allow us to protect life, health and medical-hospital resources,” said Mellado after stressing that the new provisions also apply to passengers that are in the process or have completed their vaccination cycle.

The Administrative Order grants a waiver to travelers so they can get their molecular test without the need for a referral. It also orders laboratories to give priority to arriving travelers who go in for testing.

“The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have identified airports as possible hotspots for easy contagion. That said, we’re prioritizing implementing measures that help prevent and control the spread of the virus. We want everyone healthy and we’re going to continue working until we can end the pandemic,” Mellado said.

While the Administrative Order did not specify how the agency will go about fining arriving passengers, it did say it will provide a list of labs by region where they can go to get tested.

Passengers must remain in quarantine until they have a negative molecular test result, which should not exceed 48 hours. They must upload it to their online traveler’s declaration. Once the process is completed, the system will consider the Department’s requirement as “fulfilled” and will eliminate the administrative fine from the system.

Finally, Mellado said that “any passenger who acts against the Health Department’s orders and guidelines, will receive an administrative fine of no more than $5,000. In the case of a second violation, the fine may be up to as much as $10,000.”

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 27 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.
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